Re: escheat of a copyright

From: <ArborLaw[_at_]>
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 01:10:28 -0400

Fascinating issue. I don't know of any cases involving escheat of copyright, but Nimmer (which I am assuming you have already consulted), indicates that US copyrights are treated like other royalty-producing intangible personal property under state laws. In other words, waste rules, joint ownership, and tax treatment of personalty apply. I researched adverse possession of copyright a couple of years back, another interesting one. At that point in time there was actually one case in existence.

As far as I know, there is no prohibition against a state government or any other government, including the federal government, owning a copyright and licensing it.

You might look by analogy to treatment of other income- or royaltyproducing  personalty that has been transferred by escheat, if you come up empty.

My intuition suggests you might very well not find anything. In sheer numbers, copyrights as assets having value have proliferated since 1978, when they became automatic and much easier to perfect and thus harder to lose. I similarly guess there has been less and less escheat of property of all types, since longevity has risen and since we have entered the information age and it is less likely that people die without their heirs being findable. A social scientist (or an unsocial scientist) or at the very least someone with an extremely strong opinion will surely correct me in the very next post, if I am wrong.

Carol Shepherd

   Carol Ruth Shepherd                          arborlaw[_at_]
                                             320 S Main Box 8403  
        business,                             Ann Arbor MI 48107 
 technology, entertainment                   +1 313 668 4646 tel   
    and new media law                        +1 313 663 9361 fax
==--====-==-=-=-==--=--====--=-=-=-====---===-=-=-====---===---= Received on Thu Sep 12 1996 - 05:16:03 GMT

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